What Happens to Your Body When You Have Insulin Resistance

What Happens to Your Body When You Have Insulin Resistance? – Insulin is a vital hormone produced by the pancreas, responsible for regulating the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. When we eat, our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream. Insulin acts as a key, unlocking the doors of cells and allowing glucose to enter for energy production.

However, sometimes this process can malfunction. This is known as insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. As a result, glucose cannot easily enter the cells and builds up in the bloodstream, leading to a cascade of potential health complications.

What Happens to Your Body When You Have Insulin Resistance | Stock Photo
What Happens to Your Body When You Have Insulin Resistance | Stock Photo

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, plays a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels. When we eat, our bodies break down carbohydrates into glucose, which enters the bloodstream. Insulin acts like a key, unlocking the doors to our cells and allowing glucose to enter for energy production.

However, sometimes, these cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

What Happens to Your Body When You Have Insulin Resistance

When you have insulin resistance, your body’s cells don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin is a key player in regulating blood sugar levels. When it’s working correctly, it helps glucose (sugar) from food enter your cells and be used for energy.

However, when you have insulin resistance, your cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means that glucose can’t easily enter your cells and instead builds up in your bloodstream. Over time, this can lead to a number of health problems, including:

  • Prediabetes: This is a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells don’t use it effectively. This can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can damage your organs over time.
  • Heart disease: Insulin resistance is a risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Stroke: Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or becomes blocked, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Fatty liver disease: This is a condition where fat builds up in the liver. It can lead to liver damage and even liver failure.
  • Cancer: Some studies have shown that insulin resistance may increase the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer.

Risk Factors and Causes

There are many risk factors that can make you more likely to develop insulin resistance, according to the American Diabetes Association. Some include:

  • Having overweight or obesity
  • Being sedentary
  • Having a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
  • Being African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Being over age 45

Your diet also matters when it comes to insulin resistance. “Eating more food than our body needs is the main cause of insulin resistance. Foods that can make insulin resistance worse are those high in animal fat and simple sugars (like soda, candy and pastries),” Henderson says.

There are several things you can do to help manage insulin resistance and reduce your risk of developing these health problems. These include:

  • Losing weight: Even a small amount of weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Eating a healthy diet: A diet that is low in processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats can help improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Exercising regularly: Exercise helps your body use insulin more effectively.
  • Taking medication: If lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage insulin resistance.

Early diagnosis and treatment of insulin resistance are important to prevent serious health problems. If you have any of the risk factors for insulin resistance, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

Treating and Preventing Insulin Resistance

Treating insulin resistance focuses on two main goals: improving insulin sensitivity and managing blood sugar levels. This can be achieved through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.

Lifestyle changes:


  • Reduce carbohydrate intake: Focus on low-glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These carbohydrates release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes.
  • Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats: These foods contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance.
  • Increase fiber intake: Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes gut health.
  • Choose healthy fats: Opt for unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts.


  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.
  • Engage in strength training 2-3 times per week to build muscle, which improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Find activities you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine.

Weight management:

  • Even a modest weight loss (5-7% of body weight) can significantly improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Focus on sustainable weight management strategies through healthy diet and exercise.

Other lifestyle changes:

  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can contribute to insulin resistance. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can impair insulin sensitivity and raise blood sugar levels.


In some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to control insulin resistance. Medications can be prescribed by your doctor to help manage blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Examples include:

  • Metformin: The first-line medication for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing glucose production in the liver and improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Thiazolidinediones (TZDs): These medications increase insulin sensitivity by making cells more responsive to insulin.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors: These medications work by preventing the breakdown of a hormone that stimulates insulin production.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors: These medications help the kidneys remove excess glucose from the bloodstream.

It’s crucial to consult with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs. They will consider your medical history, blood sugar levels, and other factors to create a personalized treatment plan.

Preventing Insulin Resistance:

Here are some ways to prevent insulin resistance:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Aim for a healthy body weight and avoid significant weight gain.
  • Adopt a healthy diet: Choose nutritious foods and limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
  • Stay active: Engage in regular physical activity, combining both aerobic and strength training.
  • Get enough sleep: Prioritize quality sleep for overall health and hormonal balance.
  • Manage stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk of insulin resistance.
  • See your doctor for regular checkups: Get your blood sugar levels checked regularly to catch any early signs of insulin resistance.

By adopting these lifestyle changes and preventive measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing insulin resistance and its associated health complications.

Remember, early intervention is key to managing insulin resistance and promoting long-term health. If you have any concerns, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Is insulin resistance the same as diabetes?

No, it’s not the same. Insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes. With lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and increasing physical activity, you can reverse insulin resistance.

2. What are the signs of insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance usually does not have symptoms. However, some possible symptoms include thick patches of dark skin in skin folds like the neck, skin tags, weight gain, fatigue, and hunger.

3. What’s the main cause of insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance develops due to genetics, diet, and lifestyle. One of the main causes of insulin resistance is excessive calorie intake. People with insulin resistance may also have high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), low “good” HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, and elevated blood sugar.

4. Do foods cause insulin resistance?

A specific food will not directly cause insulin resistance, but certain foods can make insulin resistance worse. Regularly eating more calories than your body needs can cause weight gain, a main contributor to insulin resistance. Reducing your intake of sweets such as soda and candy, as well as processed meat, fried foods, and high-fat meat, can reduce your overall calorie intake to help you maintain a healthy weight.

5. How can you fix insulin resistance?

You can prevent, treat and potentially reverse insulin resistance by adopting lifestyle behaviors that will contribute to your overall health and well-being. Key factors include eating more fiber-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds), moving more and sitting less, reducing stress, and getting adequate sleep.

The Bottom Line

Insulin resistance develops slowly over time and can increase the risk of prediabetes and diabetes. The earlier you address insulin resistance the better. Lifestyle modifications, such as eating more plants, exercising more, weight loss, managing stress, and improving sleep can prevent, treat, and reverse insulin resistance.


The information presented in this response on insulin resistance is based on a variety of credible sources, including:

These sources are considered reliable and trustworthy due to their commitment to evidence-based information, scientific rigor, and peer review processes.

I have also used information from reputable medical websites and healthcare organizations with a strong track record of providing accurate and up-to-date information about health conditions.

It’s important to note that this information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s always best to consult with your doctor or other healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.

Note: This article is written based on scientific evidence found by the 247newsaroundtheworld.com team. Sources are duly referenced with keywords hyperlinked to source websites and are clickable for reference.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions.